Letter from the Principal

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The Janney Players present Fiddler on the Roof, Jr.

Letter from the Principal

by Alysia Lutz


Dear Janney Families,

I hope many of you were able to see Fiddler on the Roof, Jr. this weekend.  Congratulations to the cast, band, and stage crew on a fantastic performance!  I’d also like to offer huge thanks and appreciation to Ms. Karen Harris and her team for the tremendous time and energy that they devoted to the show.  I’m looking forward to next year’s performance.

We will host Parent-Teacher Conferences this Friday, March 2nd.  By now, you should have received a link to sign-up for a conference slot from your child’s homeroom teacher. I am also including the link to the Specials team conference sign up here.

Tonight’s newsletter includes a link to the PTA presentation from our Community Night earlier this month.  As we are in the midst of DCPS budget season, I’d like to share this presentation with our community as it gives an overview on how much we rely on our PTA funds each year.  The Principal’s Coffee on Thursday, March 8 at 8 am in the art room will provide parents and family members the opportunity to hear more about how we use both DCPS and PTA funds to staff and run our school.  PTA and LSAT members will be present to answer questions. We look forward to seeing you there.

Finally, DCPS has published two possible 2018-19 academic calendars and is inviting feedback from the community.

PTA Budget Presentation
Earlier this month at our Community Meeting, PTA co-presidents Tara Cooksey and Jen Tidwell, shared an overview on how we spend our PTA dollars each year. We are incredibly fortunate to have such a strong financial support from our PTA, and as you will see from the presentation, we spend a large chunk of that budget on staff. We will talk more about our DCPS and PTA budgets at the upcoming parent coffee on March 8.

Student Support Services Corner
Hello Janney Jaguars! Welcome back to the Student Support Corner! This is my last week with you. I hope you’ve enjoyed my little tutorial on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), and found it helpful. Over the last three weeks we talked about the connection between what we think, feel, and do, identifying some kinds of automatic negative thoughts (ANTs), and strategies for distracting ourselves and calming down when overrun with those negative thoughts and feelings. For my last installment, I’d like to leave you with some strategies for identifying and challenging ANTs.

Before all that, I’d like to note the effects of a particular kind of thought – core beliefs. Core beliefs are the things we believe about who we are. Our normal everyday thoughts are often about what’s going on around us, or things we think (or judge) about ourselves and our experiences. Core beliefs are Who We Are, what we know to be true about ourselves. We often don’t think about our core beliefs every day, but sometimes an experience can trigger a core belief. Core beliefs are the foundation for how we organize, understand, and experience the world, and the foundation for all of our thoughts about it.

For instance, examples of core beliefs might include: “I’m a hard worker, competent student, and generally smart,” “I’m a loser, I’m annoying to be around, and people often don’t like me,” or even “I’m physically fit and good at sports.” Experiences can trigger those core beliefs and drive the thoughts that pop into our heads to explain our experiences. A student with the core belief of being smart and competent is more likely to think “I can do this; if I make a mistake, I’ll just try again, and I’ll eventually get it” and confidently persevere on a difficult test or project. A person with a core belief of being annoying to and unlikable by others is more likely to think “if I go to this work gathering people will wonder why I’m there, and laugh at me” and avoid the social opportunity to get to know co-workers better.

When our experiences trigger negative (and maybe even untrue) core beliefs, the ANTs come marching in, affecting how we feel, and how we act as a result.

Okay. Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get back to those pesky ANTs.  The problem with ANTs is that they’re pretty sneaky. They prey on those deepest core beliefs about ourselves and make us believe they are telling the truth and belong in our thoughts. This can make it hard to know when an interloper ANT has infiltrated and is hard at work drowning out our otherwise rational thoughts and feelings. They can make us do things that might not actually be in our best interest or guide us to success.

To fight off the ANTs, we first have to be able to tell if a thought is an ANT. ANTs can be thought of as TRAPS*:
Twisty: it twists your thinking so you ignore evidence and believe untrue things
Resistant: they can be very hard to turn off
Automatic: they appear quickly without you doing anything
Pessimistic: they make you feel negative emotions like sadness, worry, and anger
Sneaky: people don’t usually notice they’re there

To know if you’re encountering an ANT, ask yourself the following questions:
Twisty: Is it twisting your thoughts to make you believe things that are not true? Do you have any evidence the thought might not be true?
Resistant: Can you think about something else, or when you try, does the thought just come right back? Is it distracting you from whatever else is going on around you?
Automatic: What might be going on around you to trigger this thought? Did it just appear seemingly out of the blue?
Pessimistic: Do the thoughts make you feel negative emotions like sadness, worry, and anger?
Sneaky: Did you even notice them before you started looking for them?

*(pithy acronym courtesy of the Social Emotional Workshop, found on TeachersPayTeachers.com)

Once you’ve determined that your mind is being flooded with ANTs, there are some strategies you can use to fight the ANTs:

  • Identify the type of thinking mistake, or cognitive distortion, that the thought makes (these were each detailed in last week’s Student Support Corner column).
  • Play detective and look for the evidence – do you have evidence that proves the ANT to be true? Do you have evidence to contradict it?
  • Use positive self-talk to talk yourself out of it. Tell yourself the thought is wrong, list the evidence you have that it’s wrong, and tell yourself something different. It sounds hokey, but talking to yourself in the mirror can actually be helpful!
  • Decide if the thought is helpful to you – this is an especially useful strategy when the thought is a comparison between you and someone else. If you look for them, you will always be able to find someone smarter, better looking, more successful, more charismatic, happier, etc. than you. But you are who and where you are. Comparing yourself to others won’t change that and will just make you feel bad. It’s not helpful.
  • Do activities, go places, and be with people who make you feel good and comfortable and happy.
  • Play the So what? Or What if? games: Sometimes it can be helpful to follow the thought down the rabbit hole: So what if the thought is true. What if the negative prediction will come true? What does that mean, and can you do something about it? You might find that once you truly examine what it means, it doesn’t mean much at all and you can get past it.
  • Finally, I like to call this the Be Your Own Best Friend game: Tell yourself the thoughts and listen as if you were hearing it from your best friend. What advice would you give your best friend if he or she were the one talking?

Well, that’s it for me. I hope you’ve enjoyed and gotten something out of my writings on CBT this month. For additional information, I recommend a book called Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy, by David D. Burns, MD. To support your children in learning how to use CBT, you can check out Think Good Feel Good, by Paul Stallard. Both are available on amazon.com.
If you have any questions about anything CBT-related, or social emotional needs in general, please don’t hesitate to reach out. Thanks for reading!
Sara Solomon
Worry Doctor (aka School Social Worker)
sara.solomon@dc.gov

Warmly,
Alysia Lutz, Principal

 

  • Janney Calendar

    April 2021

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    • End of Term / Half-Day PD & Half-Day Records Day / No School for Students
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    • No School
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    • No School
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    • No School
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    • No School
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    • Janney Meeting re New Ward 3 Schools
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    • Dining Out at Potomac Pizza
    • DCPS Office of School Planning Meeting with Janney re New Ward 3 Schools
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